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On their third tour of New Zealand, Pakistan took the three-Test series by winning the first and drawing the other two. They were clearly the stronger side, but an over-cautious attitude after winning the Christchurch Test rather flattered the New Zealanders.
Pakistan had a long line of talented stroke-makers, but the best was not seen of them. Too often they treated New Zealand's moderate bowling with a respect it did not always deserve. Even in good batting conditions they scored slowly, and on the field Pakistan dampened down the matches with an extraordinarily slow over-rate. At Auckland, in New Zealand's first innings, it fell to 9.6 overs an hour.
The Pakistan players left behind very mixed impressions. Led by an amiable and approachable captain, Mushtaq Mohammad, they were excellent ambassadors off the field - friendly and cooperative. They were delightful in the manner they allowed swarms of small boys to play with them, usually making certain some little lad had the pleasure of making a catch, and giving the youngsters a turn at batting. But the pleasure of the visit was diminished to some extent by their go-slow policies on the field, by the deep dissatisfaction of both sides with a number of umpiring decisions, and mostly by the heavy pressures put on the umpires by the tourists. The regularity with which play was suspended while some minor point was debated was an unnecessary irritant.
Although Asif, Majid, Zaheer, Miandad and Raja showed glimpses of their batting quality, there was more satisfaction in the bowling of Imran, a fine athlete, who showed stamina as well as skill. Sikander and Sarfraz also had their good days, and these three combined to give Pakistan what was almost certainly their best pace attack since the days of matting wickets.
New Zealand went into the series aware of a lack of penetrative bowling, and the problem was compounded when Bracewell broke down at the start of the first Test. Hadlee, although over-worked, bowled splendidly, was a constant source of concern for Pakistan, and was fittingly chosen as the Man of the Series. Cairns worked industriously and, like Imran, suffered particularly from missed catches. After Christchurch, spin bowling had only a minor role in each team's attack.
All the top New Zealand batsmen made good scores on various occasions. The best and most consistent was Coney, who had not been in a Test team since playing a vital role in New Zealand's victory over Australia in 1974. He also assumed the Congdon role of containing bowler with some success. Until the final Test, attendances were not high, but good crowds at Eden Park put the tour in profit.
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